UK

Shamima Begum loses appeal over removal of British citizenship

Three judges gave their decision at a hearing on Friday.

Shamima Begum was 15 years old when she left the UK for Syria in 2015
Missing schoolgirls Shamima Begum was 15 years old when she left the UK for Syria in 2015 (Laura Lean/PA)

Shamima Begum has lost her challenge over the removal of her British citizenship at the Court of Appeal.

Ms Begum travelled to Syria in 2015 aged 15 and her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Last year, the now 24-year-old lost a challenge against the decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which said the removal of her citizenship was lawful.

Ms Begum’s lawyers brought a bid to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal, with the Home Office opposing the challenge.

In a ruling on Friday, three judges dismissed Ms Begum’s bid.

Baroness Carr, sitting with Lord Justice Bean and Lady Justice Whipple, said any arguments over the consequences of the unanimous judgment, which could include a bid to appeal at the Supreme Court, will be adjourned for seven days.

Shamima Begum, then 15, right, at Gatwick Airport on her way to Syria in February 2015
CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police shows (left to right) 15-year-old Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum, 15, at Gatwick airport in February 2015 (Metropolitan Police/PA) Shamima Begum, then 15, right, at Gatwick Airport on her way to Syria in February 2015

Giving the ruling, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: “It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms Begum is the author of her own misfortune.

“But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.

“The only task of the court was to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful. Since it was not, Ms Begum’s appeal is dismissed.”

At the appeal hearing in October, Samantha Knights KC told the court the Government had failed to consider the legal duties owed to Ms Begum as a potential victim of trafficking or as a result of “state failures” in her case.

However, in the 42-page public judgment, Baroness Carr said: “We are not persuaded that there was any obligation on the Secretary of State to take into account the possibility that there might be a duty to investigate the circumstances of Ms Begum’s trafficking, alternatively, to consider whether any such investigation as might be required would be enhanced by her presence in this country.”

She continued: “In our judgment, SIAC was entitled to find, as the specialist tribunal established by Parliament, that the issue of whether and to what extent Ms Begum’s travel to Syria had been voluntary was within the expertise of the intelligence agencies advising the Secretary of State.

“Ms Begum may well have been influenced and manipulated by others but still have made a calculated decision to travel to Syria and align with Isil,” Baroness Carr added.